Employers Lower Health Care Costs by Offering Incentives for Better Health

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Worthington Industries employee incentive approach is featured in the March 21, 2005 issue of U.S. News and World Report as an example of how employers are sharing costs to help control costs. Nashville-based Gordian Health Solutions is vendor partner.

Employers are cutting to the heart of the problem of rising health costs by taking a more active role in managing employee health, according to a survey released last week by the National Business Group on Health/Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

Although health benefit costs still rose an average of 10 percent last year, more employers are adopting health management and consumer-directed health care programs to help control costs, according to the 10th annual survey of large employers. Among the major findings: some employers keep increases remarkably low (as low as 5 percent) by getting employees involved in health care decision making that lower costs over the long haul, such as disease management and lifestyle programs aimed at weight management, exercise and smoking cessation.

Growing interest in these programs has fueled new business for Gordian Health Solutions, Inc.’s population health management programs, said Gregg Lehman, president and CEO of the Nashville, Tenn.-based company. Additional clients in the last six months of 2004 brought comprehensive population health management services to an additional 84,350 eligible employees nationwide.

“These survey results confirm what we find from tracking the success of our clients in Gordian’s population health management programs,” Lehman said. “Employers with a greater focus on health management tend to do the best job at controlling health care costs. And they know their strategy is working because they monitor it, relying on hard evidence to confirm their approach.”

Gordian, based in Nashville, Tenn., is a nationally-recognized leader in population health management, with a full line of tools to analyze health status, health management programs and services, and unparalleled results reporting and tracking capabilities.

Gordian is unique in its ability to integrate employee health management employee participation incentives so the difference is felt in employee paychecks. Participating client companies can offer bonuses or reduced health insurance premiums for employees who take health risk assessments (HRAs) or enroll in recommended disease management or behavior risk management programs.

One in four of Gordian’s new clients is using integrated benefits incentives, Lehman said. One Gordian client, Ohio-based steel processor Worthington Industries, began charging its employees $25 to $50 each month in 2004 for health insurance. But employees who agreed to take the annual Gordian HRA and enroll in recommended lifestyle management programs can use their Wellness Credits to offset premiums or to purchase dental and vision plans. The Worthington approach is featured in the March 21, 2005 issue of U.S. News and World Report as an example of how employers are paring costs.

“Employers are increasingly aware that employees who discover their health risks through our personalized HRA, then are given the tools they need to positively change their health risk behaviors, are engaged, informed employees,” Lehman said. “In this day when employers are criticized for reducing benefits, population health management is a truly valuable benefit that it pays the employer to offer.”

Gordian’s state-of-the-art HRA can be customized for each client, and is a cost-effective tool to gather data to determine health risk for a given population. Alongside retrospective claims analysis and biometric testing, the HRA is part of Gordian’s tool kit to form the basis for risk stratification within a client’s employee population--from no risk through high risk.

“Population health management assesses potential risk across the entire employee population,” Lehman said. “Employers understand that reducing risk before an employee begins filing health claims reduces costs down the line.”

About Gordian Health Solutions, Inc.

Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Gordian offers a comprehensive suite of products and services such as population health risk analysis, telephonic counseling, online products, health education hotlines, on-site health education/fitness center management and lifestyle and disease management programs. Gordian works with employers, health plans and hospitals to identify, control and manage health risk factors and their associated costs. Through targeted and tailored programs, and sophisticated tracking, monitoring and reporting capabilities, Gordian works with clients to measure program progress and cost savings. For more information about Gordian Heath Solutions, visit http://www.gordian-health.com.

NOTE TO EDITORS: To speak with Gregg Lehman, PhD, CEO of Gordian Health Solutions, call Karla Hurter,(703)319-0957

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: http://www.HRmarketer.com) on behalf of the company listed above.

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Karla Hurter